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 SENSAAS Project

Development of innovative groundwater contamination sensors: impact and challenges for the environment and human health

The quality of water, particularly groundwater, which is used primarily for drinking water supply (AFB, 2017) and feeds surface water, is both an environmental and a public health issue. While the chemical and biological characteristics of groundwater may vary naturally from one aquifer to another, they can be greatly accentuated by human activities on the surface of catchment areas. The first groundwater monitoring studies were carried out in the 1970s to assess these potential impacts. At the time, they focused on a few physico-chemical and biological criteria, without taking into account potential contamination by micropollutants, which could not be quantified at the time.
However, recent studies show that these contaminants can not only have a direct impact on water quality, but that there are also cocktail effects between contaminants that interact to further degrade water quality. This is the case, for example, with antibiotic resistance (ATBR) acquired by bacteria subjected to the influence of pharmaceutical molecules in the environment. Moreover, whether they come from domestic, industrial or agricultural waste, these micropollutants have consequences for the environment and human health, as well as economic impacts. Indeed, the quantified costs of monitoring and positive action taken in France since the 2000s to reduce the presence of micropollutants in fresh surface water and drinking water amount to at least several billion euros (INERIS, 2020). It is therefore necessary both to better characterise water contamination and trace it back to its source(s) in order to control its entry into aquatic systems, and to find innovative, low-cost, easy-to-implement and reliable solutions to reduce the cost of environmental measures.

In this context, the SENSAAS project proposes to develop innovative sensors and measurement methods for quantifying micropollutants of societal interest (microplastics, antibiotics, trace metals) in groundwater:

Development of innovative methods for quantifying microplastic content and composition using relaxometry and pyrolysis coupled with mass spectrometry (Pyro-CG-MS): comparison of results;
Development of molecularly imprinted materials for measuring specific antibiotics (fluoroquinolones, macrolides, sulphonamides): comparison with conventional LC-MSMS measurements and link with the quantification and characterisation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria;
Optimisation of in situ fibre optic deployment to characterise underground flows and quantify metallic micropollutants.

Project leaders: Hélène Celle, Xavier Bertrand, Philippe Amiotte-Suchet, Thomas Karbowiak, Jean-Charles Beugnot, Kien Phan Huy

Teams involved

UMR 6249 Chrono-Environnement (CNRS, UFC) – Project Leader
UMR 6282 BioGéoSciences (CNRS, UB)
UMR PAM, Food and Microbiological Processes (AgroSup-Dijon, UB)

The project will be carried out on sites belonging to UFC’s internationally-renowned observation services: Jurassic Karst (SNO Karst, ZAAJ, IR OZCAR, IR ZA, eLTER) and AUVERWATCH (SNO H+, SNO RENOIR, IR OZCAR, eLTER, GNIP-AIEA).